Two years prior to the time that Ducks Unlimited (DU) was founded, More Game Birds laid the foundation for conservation of waterfowl through the financing of what was at the time, the largest and most extensive recension of waterfowl populations ever recorded. in 1935 More Game Birds funded an aerial survey known as The 1935 International Wild Duck Census. The first ever aerial census of this kind that was conducted in 1935, the International Wild Duck Census helped determine the number of ducks in across the Great Slave Lake in Canada all the way to and including the Upper Midwestern United States. The surveys conducted by aerials were bolstered by ground counts that required 1,500 volunteers and the estimate was that there were forty millions ducks in Canada and 2.2 million birds in the United States in the spring of 1935. These aerial surveys would eventually be a standard of conservation of waterfowl, and they also proved that any efforts to improve and protect waterfowl populations should focus on areas like the plains of central Canada, America’s “Duck Factory.”
Utilizing this data as a reference point, Ducks Unlimited was incorporated on the 29th of January, 1937 in the United States and Ducks Unlimited Canada was founded in Winnipeg on the 10th of March of the same year. The purpose of these organisations was to raise funds from waterfowl hunters in order to continue aerial surveys and to restore vital habitats, especially in Ducks Unlimited Washington Canadian habitats that were being depleted for agricultural use. More Game Birds provided the first funds necessary to begin studies and market research for Ducks Unlimited as well as Ducks Unlimited Canada.
in 1938 DU donated $100,000 in funds for Ducks Unlimited Washington to restore habitat and fund aerial surveys. DU Canada hired Thomas Main Chief of the surface water engineering to the Canadian National Railways and an avid hunter of waterfowl, to manage the project. Expert in waterfowl Bertram Cartwright of the Natural History Society of Manitoba was appointed as the first DU Canada naturalist in the same year.
On the month of April of 1938 Main, Cartwright and other top group members of DU Canada, organized the first restoration project of DU Canada in Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba. It was drained in 1916 to create more cultivable land, Big Grass Marsh, like other wetlands that were drained, was not suitable for farming. Farmers who had lost money in agriculture were thrilled to take on the work that was undertaken during the rehabilitation of Big Grass Marsh, and a dam to control the flow was built to guard the nearby farmland from flooding. The other projects were followed in 1938, and by the time of 1938, after just the period of eighteen weeks in the existence of the organization, DU Canada had restored and protected more than 150,000 acres of essential nesting habitat. In 1940 The More Game Birds of America Foundation which had aided to establish Ducks Unlimited, ceased to exist. The entire of More Game Birds assets were handed over to DU.
Hunters from across Canada and across the United States began taking note of the accomplishments of DU, and pledges grew. The three states of Texas, California, and Arkansas hunters poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars to DU’s cause and made headlines in local papers. Gordon MacQuarrie, famed outdoor columnist for the Milwaukee Journal, praised DU’s efforts and helped to raise awareness of the group in Wisconsin. DU started selling “subscriptions” that promised pledges for five years. In addition, ammunition and shotguns were raffled at events to raise funds. As the funds poured through the organisation, the activities and mission of DU increased. In the 1940s thousands of millions of more areas in Canada and the United States and Canada was restored to waterfowl breeding habitat through DU. Louisiana oil baron Alfred C. Ducks Unlimited Washington, was so impressed with the efforts of DU that he went to Canada to see the restoration in person. When he returned in Louisiana, Glassell called a gathering of Shreveport duck-hunters. He contributed $1,000 to the efforts of DU Canada and demanded that all hunters follow suit (rumor is that Glassell received a check for $500 on the plate, and then took it down to the ground and asked the donor to increase the amount, which he did). Glassell was later the president of DU in 1944 and 1945.